After another year of continued growth for the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce, outgoing board chair Jacqueline Reed credited the group for helping Jackson County become a certified participant in a program designed to aid workforce development.

The county needed 210 businesses to agree to use the Certified Work Ready Community program for hiring and promotion. Workers take a test akin to the ACT most of us took in high school. It measures skill areas such as graphic literacy, applied math and workplace documents. The county achieved the mark in October.

“(Workforce development) not only affects Blue Springs, but it's an issue nationwide,” Reed said during Friday's 58th annual Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce banquet. “We need to have businesses involved. You all came through for us and helped push Jackson County to that status.”

Chamber leadership reported 530 member business as of Dec. 31, up 37 from a year earlier. Eric Sporing is board chair for 2020.

Colonial Gardens, which has transformed in a few years from a garden center and nursery on the city's south edge to include classes and workshops, a cafe and hosting events, was named business of the year for 2019.

“We're just a little garden center, but we're doing a lot of cool things,” said Bryn Takle, crediting employees with “a lot of heart, sweat and tears.”

Other nominated businesses were Blue Springs Marine, Dell's Powersports, MVP Awards & Engraving, Rink Ratz, Los Cabos restaurant, ReMax Heritage and Trinity Wellness.

The chamber named Lyle Shaver of Spring Oak Property Management, a former Cty Council member and businessman, as its 2019 Citizen of the Year. He was nominated by Blue Springs Rotary. Other nominees were Rhonda Sullivan of One Community Hospice and Greta Hoener, retired Blue Springs art teacher.

The chamber also honored Kelly O'Reilly, owner of Looks of Shear Elegance salon, as its Connector of the Year, someone who helps encourage and retain chamber membership and community involvement.